If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I’m a big fan of Grgich Hills wine. I’m particularly partial to their Cabernets, which I find put the intimidating “Napa Cab” stereotypes to rest. But their Zinfandels come in at a close second. Last year’s vintage had me taken aback, as the Zinfandel’s disparate flavors and textures seemed to, in the end, create a seamless journey. This year, those flavors and textures seem to come together creating a rounder, fuller-figured wine, a more cyclical story — and quite an enjoyable drinking experience.

About the Wine: The Grgich Hills 2013 Estate Zinfandel is made of 97% Zinfandel grapes harvested from the Grgich Hills 34-acre estate vineyard in Calistoga. The Zinfandel grapes were co-fermented with 3% Petite Sirah (also harvested from Calistoga) using all indigenous yeasts. The wine aged in 100% French oak barrels for 15 months.

15% ABV

Flavor Profile: Pop the cork on the Grgich Hills 2013 Estate Zinfandel and breathe in the dark, dank wood of a wine cellar. On the pour, the Zinfandel is a light, delicate shade of rouge, but settles into the glass with a bit of purple royalty in its center. Tilt and observe that the wine is, indeed dark, yet penetrable even at its core.

On the nose you’ll find light, bright raspberries, strawberries, a bit of mushroom funk, wet wood, and dried leaves on the dusty ground. There’s a very faint hint of chocolate lingering in the background and a solid line of acidity that rides throughout, enticing you take that first sip. So sip. The palate is quite light and immediately earthy with dusty-like tannins that just waft around the wine’s solid acidity and fruit aromas. Dominant flavors are of strawberry, raspberry, anise, burnt coffee or dried tree bark, and a classically enjoyable peppery finish.

Food Pairing: I enjoyed the Grgich Hills 2013 Estate Zinfandel on two separate evenings. The first night I paired the Zinfandel with a simple homemade pizza topped with mushrooms, olives, and cheese. The second night I paired this wine with a classic spaghetti and (vegan) meatball. Both meals paired quite nicely, as the wines combination earth and fruit flavors work quite well with the tomato-sauciness of each meal. Similarly, each meal used mushrooms as a key ingredient, and I think the funky, earthy flavors of the mushroom along with its meaty texture did well to round out the palate of the wine each night.

I enjoyed this wine and would pair it with either meal (or both) again.

More Info: I received the Grgich Hills 2013 Estate Zinfandel as a sample for review. (Cheers Ken!) Retail: $36. For more information about Grgich Hills, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Grgich Hills website.

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